David St. Lawrence offers the following criteria for judging value or worth of companies and individuals:
You can accurately judge the worth of a person or organization, even yourself, by how well these three things are done:
1. Promising only what you intend to deliver
2. Keeping your word once given
3. Following through so as to meet expectations
We instinctively and accurately judge a person by how well they do these three things, whether they are a child or an adult. We trust people who do these things. People who don't do these things are untrustworthy, no matter who they are, how educated they are, or how important they may be.
To quantitatively verify his observations, here are the top 6 most-important attributes in a phone provider as ranked by over 500 small business customers:
1. Takes responsibility (92.6%)
2. Phone/internet services always work (91.6%)
3. Delivers on promises (91%)
4. Communicates honestly and clearly (87.6%)
5. Available when I need them (87.3%)
6. Offers the most competitive price (84.6%)
The company in question had been focusing all its efforts on offering the most competitive price. The executive team was quite surprised to learn that price was not even close to being the most important item on customers' lists. As a result of these findings, we began an internal campaign of "Delivering on Promises" to positively impact customer attraction and retention.
These soft issues aren't often measured or addressed by management teams, but they're the critical factors on whether customers continue to buy from your company. As David points out, they're drivers for organizational trust... and trust is a driver of success.